NY rent relief rollout inches forward as evictions loom

State has distributed just $117K in rent relief from $2.7B pot, with 160K applications filed

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty, iStock)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty, iStock)

The bumpy rollout of New York’s rent relief for needy tenants continues at a snail’s pace, with just $117,000 distributed to applicants as the eviction moratorium’s expiration date nears.

The state has a $2.7 billion pot of funds to be distributed, but only a tiny sum has made its way to landlords since applications finally opened June 1. By the end of June, New York was one of just two states that had yet to send out any rent relief, according to the New York Times.

While funds are beginning to move at last, the state is still far behind others in terms of distribution. Demand is robust, with 160,000 applications filed as of Monday, the Times reported.

Research group National Equity Atlas analyzed census data to determine that more than 830,000 households in the state are behind on rent. The estimated debt of those households is $3.2 billion.

The state did expect more funds to be distributed last week, officials told the Times, but the system has been plagued by technical glitches. Some tenants have seen entire applications wiped while filling them out, while others have expressed frustration over an inability to save progress during the lengthy application process and return later.

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The clock is ticking on getting aid to the people who need it, as the state’s pandemic eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of August. After that, housing advocates warn that many tenants will be forced out onto the street.

Concern is heightened for people in low-income neighborhoods who may not have consistent Internet access or a language barrier that makes it harder to fill out the applications.

Tenants are temporarily protected from eviction once they complete an application, even if it’s still being processed or aid is still being distributed.

[NYT] — Holden Walter-Warner